29 October 2021
On Friday, despite some early admin issues, we left school by 10:30 for what was supposed to be a 5-hour bus journey, past Blackpool, in high spirits. Seven hours, and five traffic jams later, one minibus, six cadets and one staff member arrived at Inskip Cadet Centre, and a further hour later, the second minibus arrived, apparently late after the navigating cadet had taken them on a ‘mystery tour’ by mistake. Once we and all our luggage had arrived, we got bedded into our new dorms and unpacked. We ate hot dinner in the cafeteria, and it was clear that food would be awesome all week. Exhausted from the long drive, we relaxed and watched a film together and soon went to sleep.
The next day we went on a trip to Blackpool, and went to the Sandcastle swimming pool in the morning (imagine Coral Reef but more slides), and had a blast. Then we went to the Blackpool Pleasure Beach theme park, where we spent upwards of 5 hours spinning around and twisting left and right on the huge rides. After that, we were treated to fish and chips one the beach, and went on the south pier. We travelled back and once again we were tired after a long day (this will be a theme!) so we were soon asleep.
The first activity themed day on Sunday was climbing, abseiling and canyoning. In the morning we went into the hills of Yorkshire and climbed up some daunting cliffs, and then we abseiled back down them. Despite the terrifying height, everyone completed both the climb and the abseil swiftly. Next was canyoning, this involved putting on wetsuits, swimming down a freezing stream, and climbing up and jumping off of rocks. Through the showers of rain we had a great time, and got down to the bottom of the river in only half the time other groups had got down, and so we spent a while jumping off of a waterfall ledge into a plunge pool. Despite the harsh conditions, many of the group thought that this was the best activity of the whole week. Worn out from the high energy activities, we had another quiet night, except for a trip to Morrisons where enough sugary products were bought to feed a whole school, let alone a group of 13 boys.
After an early wake up on Monday and a long drive to Lake Windermere (on which most of us went back to sleep) we started paddle boarding and canoeing. Despite the rough weather, we kept close together and paddled around for a bit, however as the day went on, it only got colder and windier, so the afternoon’s games were called off in favour of a hot shower and an early night after a bowling afternoon, which Captain Edwards won by only 6 pins.
Tuesday, we had planned to use the assault course and climbing wall in the Cadet Centre in the morning, however the rain meant that it was too treacherous to continue as planned. Instead we used the flight simulator, as well as the virtual and live ranges provided by the Cadet Centre Staff. Cpl Oliver Sutton proved himself a good shot on the virtual range, beating even the instructor, knocking down all 19 targets with 19 shots. Sgt Tom Russell and Cdt Will Bee also performed excellently, knocking down all of the targets with 20 shots. On the physical range Cdt Felix Nolan scored the best average grouping of the group, earning himself a shooting badge. After this, we went out to the cinema to watch the new Bond film, No time to die, which everyone enjoyed. Once again, we got back to the accommodation tired, and we were soon asleep.
On Wednesday, we had a setback, in that two of our cadets tested positive for Covid in our routine LFTs, and had to go home. Thankfully though, the school gave us swift guidance, and told us that we would be able to continue activities for the last few days. That meant that on Wednesday we went ‘Ghyll Scrambling’ which was almost the opposite of canyoning in that instead of jumping off of rocks in order to travel downstream in a cold river, we were climbing up rocks in order to travel upstream in a cold river. We learnt how to belay each other, and were completely responsible for each other’s safety while climbing. This was another of the group’s favourite activities. In the afternoon we went caving, which involved abseiling down into the ’Bull Pot of the Witches’, crawling through the muddy caves, discovering huge caverns and underground streams as well as some challenging climbs. Once again we worked together as a team to navigate the caves, and we were soon finished for Wednesday.
The last day of activities was a trek up to the peak of Helvellyn, along the ridges of the Lake District. Our instructors took us scrambling over the rocks on Striding Edge, where we saw the stunning views of the lakes, and could even see the sea. We walked for around five hours and it was a very challenging walk, but we persevered through the strong winds, and elevation change, and had a great time. Once we had finished the walk, we said goodbye to our instructors who had been amazing all week, and then we went back to the accommodation, and packed our bags to depart early the next day. After dinner we thanked the kitchen staff for their excellent food all week, and had some free time.
On Friday morning, we had a lie-in until 07:15 and then cleaned the accommodation, which was a daunting task, but once we worked together in teams, we got through it quickly and set off at 09:30. After a long journey and a great week, we came home absolutely shattered.
I would like to say a massive thank you to Sqn Ldr Cottam and Capt Edwards who organised the trip and ferried us round to all our activities. Furthermore, I would like to thank the staff at the Cadet Centre who made our lives comfortable and easy. I had a great time on this trip, and I am sure I am not the only one.
Written by Cpl Nat Zamler